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Volcanoes

Volcanoes are vents or openings in the Earth’s crust that allow molten rock, gases, and ash to escape from beneath the surface. That and molten iron is the stuff this whole earth is made of, and it’s right under your feet, although very far down in most cases.

The word “volcano” is derived from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.

There are approximately 1,500 active volcanoes worldwide.

The largest volcano on Earth is Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which is also the largest shield volcano. It rises about 13,678 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level and extends about 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) below sea level.

The tallest volcano in the solar system is Olympus Mons on Mars, reaching a height of about 69,841 feet (21,287 meters), almost three times the height of Mount Everest.

Volcanoes can form on land or underwater, with some of the most spectacular volcanic activity occurring beneath the ocean surface.

The eruptions of volcanoes can vary widely, ranging from peaceful lava flows to explosive eruptions that can eject ash, gases, and pyroclastic materials into the atmosphere.

When the Krakatoa volcano erupted in 1883, the sound could be heard 3,000 miles (4,800 km) away.

Volcanic ash can travel long distances, carried by wind currents. The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland disrupted air travel across Europe for several days due to the ash cloud it produced.

Volcanoes are responsible for creating new land, as the lava cools and solidifies over time.

Volcanic eruptions can produce pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of hot gas, ash, and volcanic materials that rush down the slopes of a volcano.

Your author and his wife had the privilege of walking on brand new real estate that hadn’t existed the day before on the Big Island of Hawaii. We were advised to bring face masks in case the wind direction shifted, wear winter-like clothing to shield us from the heat, and wear boots. Of course most of that clothing isn’t available on Hawaii, but we did dress in layers. As we walked across the dry lava, we could see cracks leading 2 inches (5 cm) down still glowing red.

We came to a river of lava, a pyroclastic flow, and were able to poke 6-foot (2-meter) ohia sticks (a straight hardwood) into the molten lava and pull some out on the instantly flaming sticks. It turned into smooth, hardened glass, with long streamers as drips froze in mid-fall. Our sneakers were smoking, and when we returned, we found that tho soles had slightly melted into new shapes.

The famous volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, preserving them remarkably well.

Some volcanoes exhibit a lava lake, a pool of molten lava that can be observed within the volcano’s crater.

Volcanic lightning, known as “dirty thunderstorms,” can occur during volcanic eruptions due to the electrical charges generated by ash particles colliding in the plume.

The largest volcanic eruption in recorded history was the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815. It caused the “Year Without a Summer” in 1816, resulting in widespread crop failures and unusually cold temperatures.

The volcanic activity on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, is the most intense in the solar system. Its surface is covered with hundreds of active volcanoes.

Volcanic eruptions can create unique geological formations, such as volcanic cones, calderas, and lava tubes.

Some volcanoes have produced massive eruptions in the past, known as supervolcanic eruptions. The most recent one occurred about 74,000 years ago at Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Underwater volcanoes, also known as seamounts, can form islands over time when they emerge from the ocean surface.

The deadliest volcanic eruption in history occurred in 1815 on Mount Tambora, killing an estimated 71,000 people.

Some volcanoes, known as “stratovolcanoes” or composite volcanoes, are made up of alternating layers of lava, ash, and rock.

The Hawaiian Islands were formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over millions of years, as the Pacific tectonic plate moved over a hot spot in the Earth’s mantle.

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Earthquake

Earthquakes can occur on any continent, including Antarctica.

Earthquakes have been recorded in every state in the United States.

The largest recorded earthquake in history was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5.

Earthquakes can trigger other natural disasters, such as tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The point within the Earth’s crust where an earthquake originates is called the hypocenter or focus.

The point on the Earth’s surface directly above the hypocenter is called the epicenter.

Earthquakes can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur in the early morning hours.

The instrument used to measure earthquakes is called a seismometer.

Earthquakes can be caused by tectonic plate movements, volcanic activity, or human activities like mining or reservoir-induced seismicity.

Many are saying the recent flooding in California and other places put more weight on the tectonic plates, and could hasten the next earthquakes.

The study of earthquakes is known as seismology.

The Earth experiences thousands of small earthquakes every day, but most of them go unnoticed by humans.

The Richter scale, developed in 1935, is used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes.

The largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States was the 1964 Alaska earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.2. The picture below was taken after the Alaska earthquake.

After the Alaska earthquake

The Ring of Fire, a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Earthquakes can cause changes in the Earth’s rotation, leading to slightly shorter or longer days.

The speed of seismic waves generated by an earthquake can range from a few hundred meters per second to several kilometers per second.

The San Andreas Fault in California is one of the most well-known and studied earthquake-prone areas in the world.

Earthquakes can occur underwater and are often responsible for creating new landforms, such as islands.

The deadliest earthquake in recorded history occurred in 1556 in Shaanxi, China, estimated to have claimed the lives of approximately 830,000 people.

The term “aftershock” refers to smaller earthquakes that occur after a major earthquake.

Earthquakes can cause liquefaction, where saturated soil temporarily loses its strength and behaves like a liquid.

Some animals have been observed displaying unusual behavior before an earthquake, possibly sensing the seismic activity.

Earthquakes can generate a variety of wave types, including primary (P-waves), secondary (S-waves), and surface waves.

Deep earthquakes, those occurring at depths of more than 300 kilometers (186 miles), are associated with subduction zones.

Earthquakes can be felt over long distances, and some large earthquakes have been reported to shake buildings thousands of kilometers away.

The largest recorded intraplate earthquake (occurring within a tectonic plate) was the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the United States.

The term “seismic gap” refers to an area along a fault line that is locked and has not experienced a significant earthquake in a long time, potentially indicating increased seismic hazard.

The study of historical seismicity helps scientists understand patterns and recurrence intervals of earthquakes in different regions.

Earthquakes can be monitored and early warning systems can provide a few seconds to minutes of advance notice before the shaking reaches a particular location.

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Geology

The Earth’s inner core, composed mostly of iron and nickel, is hotter than the surface of the Sun, reaching temperatures of up to 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,932 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Earth’s magnetic field has flipped numerous times throughout its history, with the north and south magnetic poles reversing positions.

The highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, continues to grow at a rate of about 4 millimeters per year due to the constant tectonic activity between the Indian and Eurasian plates.

The deepest part of the Earth’s ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, reaches a depth of approximately 11,034 meters (36,201 feet or 7 miles), which is deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, with the remaining 29% consisting of landmasses.

The largest volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, is also one of the most active. It rises about 9,144 meters (30,000 feet) from its base on the ocean floor, making it taller than Mount Everest when measured from its underwater base.

The Earth’s crust is made up of several tectonic plates that are constantly moving. Over millions of years, these movements have caused the continents to shift and collide, forming mountain ranges and other geologic features.

The Earth’s magnetic field, which protects the planet from harmful solar radiation, is generated by the motion of molten iron in the outer core.

The Grand Canyon in the United States is not only a magnificent natural wonder but also a geologic timeline, with its layered rock formations representing millions of years of Earth’s history.

Diamonds, which are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, can be brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions. They are essentially made of carbon atoms that have been subjected to immense pressure and heat.

The Earth’s lithosphere, which includes the crust and uppermost part of the mantle, is divided into several large and small tectonic plates. These plates move in relation to each other, causing earthquakes, volcanic activity, and the formation of mountain ranges.

The largest earthquake ever recorded on Earth was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5. It caused widespread destruction and triggered tsunamis that affected coastal regions across the Pacific Ocean.

The Earth’s outermost layer, the crust, is thinner beneath the oceans (about 5-10 kilometers or 3-6 miles) and thicker beneath the continents (about 30-50 kilometers or 18-31 miles).

The Earth’s oldest rocks, found in Western Greenland, are estimated to be about 3.8 billion years old, providing valuable insights into the early history of our planet.

The movement of tectonic plates can cause the formation of volcanoes along subduction zones, where one tectonic plate is forced beneath another. This process is responsible for the “Ring of Fire,” a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean known for its intense volcanic and seismic activity.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is the largest coral reef system in the world, stretching over 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles). It is composed of billions of tiny organisms called coral polyps.

The Earth’s mantle, located between the crust and the outer core, is a solid but viscous layer composed mainly of silicate minerals. It is divided into the upper and lower mantle, with the boundary known as the Gutenberg Discontinuity.

The Dead Sea, located between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest point on land, sitting more than 430 meters (1,410 feet) below sea level.

The largest recorded volcanic eruption in modern history occurred in 1815 when Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted. The event resulted in a global cooling effect, causing the “Year Without a Summer” in 1816.

The Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent called Pangaea, which began to break apart around 175 million years ago.

The driest place on Earth is the Atacama Desert in Chile, where some areas have not received rainfall for centuries.

The Earth’s largest canyon is not on the surface but lies beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. The Gamburtsev Mountains are buried beneath kilometers of ice and were only discovered through radar mapping.

The largest known crystal, discovered in the Naica Mine in Mexico, measures about 12 meters (39 feet) in length and weighs 55 tons. It is made of gypsum.

The Earth’s tides are primarily caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon, but the Sun also contributes to their magnitude.

The longest recorded earthquake lasted for approximately 10 minutes and occurred in Russia in 1952.

The Great Blue Hole in Belize is the world’s largest underwater sinkhole, measuring about 300 meters (984 feet) across and 124 meters (407 feet) deep.

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

The deepest underground mine in the world is the Mponeng Gold Mine in South Africa, reaching a depth of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).

The Earth experiences approximately 50,000 earthquakes each year (246 per day), but the majority of them are too small to be felt by humans.

The longest recorded glacier is the Lambert Glacier in Antarctica, stretching for about 400 kilometers (250 miles).

The Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA, is saltier than the ocean and one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. Its salinity can reach up to 27%.

The largest underground cave chamber in the world is the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia, which is approximately 700 meters (2,300 feet) long, 400 meters (1,300 feet) wide, and 70 meters (230 feet) high.

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Water

Water can exist in the three common states of matter: solid (ice), liquid, and gas (steam).

Water is the only substance that can exist in all three states of matter within the range of temperatures found on Earth.

Water can also exist in a fourth state of matter called a “spin ice,” where the water molecules are arranged in a crystalline lattice.

Water is the most common substance on Earth, covering about 71% of the planet’s surface.

A single drop of water contains billions of water molecules.

Water has a high surface tension, which allows certain insects like water striders to walk on it.

Pure water is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, however it is said that cats can taste pure water.

The maximum density of water occurs at 4°C, which means that ice floats on water.

Water is the only substance that expands when it freezes.

The human body is about 60% water. An average person contains ten gallons (38 liters) of water.

Water can absorb more heat than many other substances, which makes it a good coolant.

Water is used in many industrial processes, such as power generation, manufacturing, and agriculture.

To grow the wheat for a single loaf of bread requires two tons of water (1,496 gallons or 5,663 liters) are needed.

The blood of mammals has the same dilution of salt as ocean water.

A person can survive for about a month without food, but only about a week without water.

The world’s largest waterfall is Angel Falls in Venezuela, which drops water from a height of 979 meters (3,212 feet – more than 1/2-mile).

The average American uses about 80-100 gallons (302 to 378 liters) of water per day.

Water is a polar molecule, which means it has a positive end and a negative end. They say water molecules are shipped like Mickey Mouse, with a round head, the oxygen, and two ears, the hydrogen atoms at a 104.5-degree angle to each other.

Microwave ovens take advantage of the shape of water molecules. At a 2.4 gigahertz (2.4 billion times per second) they reverse an electrical field. The water molecules try to align one way, then the other. All this movement creates heat. Since plastic, porcelain and many other materials do not have polar molecules, they do not heat up in the presence of an alternating field.

Water can be split into its constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen, through a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis is done with direct current electricity. If you put electrodes in water, bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen will form around those electrodes. Engines can be powered by recombining hydrogen with oxygen, but so far, the process of electrolysis uses more energy than can be retrieved.

Water is essential for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.

Scientists specializing in exobiology generally assume that lifeforms will require water, so life will probably not be found on a dry planet.

Sea water contains approximately 34 parts per thousand of salt.

The water cycle is the continuous movement of water between the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Water can be used to extinguish fires because it can absorb heat quickly and effectively.

Water can have a memory, according to a controversial theory called “water memory” proposed by French scientist Jacques Benveniste.

You can be cold when wet because water transfers heat from your body to the air more quickly than dry skin.

Water can form up to 15 different phases, including a liquid crystal phase.

Water has been found to have a surprisingly high surface tension in microgravity environments, which can affect the behavior of fluids in space.

The human body can sense the difference between hot and cold water much more accurately than it can sense differences in temperature for other substances such as steel, plastic and wood.

Water can conduct electricity even in the absence of dissolved ions, due to a phenomenon called “protonic conduction.”

Water has been found to exhibit strange quantum properties, such as “quantum tunneling” and “quantum entanglement.”

Water can be supercooled to extremely low temperatures without freezing, and can even exist as a liquid at temperatures as low as -40°C. Something needs to trigger formation of crystals (ice). Without that, water cannot freeze.

Water can be used to create “snowcrete,” a building material made from a mixture of snow and concrete.

Water can form a “chain” of hydrogen bonds that can stretch across large distances, allowing it to transport energy and information.

Water can be used to create a type of glass called “water glass,” which is made by melting silica in a solution of sodium carbonate and water.

Water can act as a natural lens, bending and distorting light to create mirages and other optical illusions.

Water can form a “bridge” between two surfaces, allowing them to stick together without the need for glue or other adhesives. If you’ve ever put a cover slip on a microscope slide, you’ve witnessed the effect.

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Hawaii

The Hawaiian language has no word for “yes” or “no,” instead the meanings are conveyed through context and intonation.

The Hawaiian Islands have their own unique form of massage, known as lomilomi, which incorporates traditional Hawaiian healing practices.

Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the United States.

The Hawaiian Islands have their own unique style of quilt-making, known as Hawaiian quilting, which features designs inspired by nature, such as palm trees and pineapples.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that is completely made up of islands.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that grows coffee.

The Hawaiian Islands are the only state in the United States that has no snakes, making it one of the few places in the world where you can hike without worrying about snakes.

The Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters: A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a royal order of knights, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

The largest volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, is located in Hawaii.

Hawaii is the only state that honors a monarch: King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian islands in 1810.

Hawaii was not part of the United States until August 21, 1959.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a royal palace.

The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes.

The traditional Hawaiian dish, poi, is made from mashed taro root.

The first commercial flight to Hawaii was in 1927.

The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote islands in the world.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has two official languages: English and Hawaiian.

The Hawaiian Islands are home to the world’s largest telescope, the Keck Observatory.

The state fish of Hawaii is the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, which is also known as the reef triggerfish.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that grows vanilla beans.

The Hawaiian Islands are home to the largest population of humpback whales in the world.

The Hawaiian Islands are the only state in the United States that grows cacao, which is used to make chocolate.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has its own time zone.

The state motto of Hawaii is “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono”, which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.

Hawaii has the highest percentage of multi-racial individuals of any state in the United States.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a public school system that is statewide.

The Hawaiian Islands have their own unique form of dance, known as hula, which tells stories through movement and music.

Hawaii is home to the world’s largest open-air shopping center, the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.

The Hawaiian Islands are the only state in the United States that is home to a royal mausoleum, where members of the Hawaiian royal family are buried.

Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with manta rays at night.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a statewide ban on billboards.

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a law mandating the use of solar water heaters in new homes.

The Hawaiian island of Lanai, which used to be owned by the Dole pineapple company is now owned by Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corporation. Actually, he owns 98% of the 140 square mile (362 square kilometer) island. The remaining 2 percent is owned by a handful of homeowners and the state of Hawaii. As of 2020, 3,362 people live on Lanai

Hawaii is the only state in the United States where you can find a green sand beach, located at Papakolea on the Big Island.

The Hawaiian Islands have their own unique form of storytelling, known as mo’olelo, which incorporates oral histories, legends, and myths.